MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University

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MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University

             The Heat of the Moment
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MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University

                                                                                                                                                 VOLUME 48, ISSUE 1

                                                                                                                                                                  Laura Geiser

             e greeted 2022 with hope — energized                                                                                                          {A&S ’90, Grad ’92}
             by our University’s incredible accom-
             plishments, even as we were saddened                                                                                                       A S S O C I AT E E D I T O R

by the loss of two cherished community members.                                                                                                      Amy Garland {A&S ’97}
   By the time you read this issue, you will have
                                                                                                                                                              ART DIRECTOR
received the 2021 Saint Louis University President’s
                                                                                                                                                                     Matt Krob
Report. This report highlights SLU’s exceptional
work in academics, research and patient care. In
2021, we set records in giving, strengthened our
                                                                                                                                                                Joe Barker
enrollment, enhanced inclusion and equity efforts,                                                                                                 Marie Dilg {Grad SW ’94}
contributed meaningfully to the revitalization of                                                                                                           Bridjes O’Neil
Midtown St. Louis, and continued to live our Jesuit
mission through all that we do.                                                                                                                          ON CAMPUS NEWS
   We owe our accomplishments to the Saint Louis                                                                                                                STORIES

University community members who came before us.                                                                                                           University Public

                                                                                                                                                                                       PHOTO BY STEVE DOLAN
Sadly, at the end of 2021, we said goodbye to two of                                                                                                              Relations
                                                                                                                 Bruemmer (LEFT),                  Billiken Media Relations
our greats. Mary Bruemmer and Father John Padberg,                                                               1985                                                                                                                                                              SLU’s 2020 graduates finally gathered for
S.J., showed us what it means to live our mission                                                                Padberg (BELOW),                                                                                                                                                   an in-person commencement ceremony
                                                                                                                                                              ON THE COVER                                                                                                                on Aug. 7, 2021, at Chaifetz Arena.
fully and with grace.                                                                                            1986
                                                                                                                                                             Illustration by
   Mary Bruemmer was small                                                                                                                               Robert Neubecker
in stature but nothing short
of a living legend. She came
to Saint Louis University as a
                                       “Mary Bruemmer and                                                                                           Universitas is published by
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Features                                                                  Departments
                                                                                                                                                         Saint Louis University.
student before World War II.                                                                                                                            Opinions expressed in
She was the first female editor         Father John Padberg, S.J.,                                                                                 Universitas are those of the
                                                                                                                                                    individual authors and not
of The University News — the                                                                                                                           necessarily those of the                               6                                                                         2
first of many “firsts” in her
long SLU career. Mary ulti-             showed us what it means                                                                                      University administration.
                                                                                                                                                  Unsolicited manuscripts and
                                                                                                                                                                                                              THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT                                                    ON CAMPUS
                                                                                                                                                    photographs are welcome                                   Five SLU faculty are studying the impact of climate change.               Soccer success ///
mately worked with seven
                                                                                                                                                    but will be returned only if                              — By Amy Garland                                                          College reorganization ///
SLU presidents and “retired”            to live our mission fully                                                                                  accompanied by a stamped,                                                                                                            Commencement recap
only to continue coming to                                                                                                                            self-addressed envelope.                                                                                                          /// Campaign update ///
the University daily as a vol-                                                                                                                      Letters to the editor must                                12
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Champions Center ///
unteer for more t ha n t wo             and with grace.”                                                                                             be signed, and letters not
                                                                                                                                                      intended for publication
                                                                                                                                                                                                              ACADEMIC-IN-CHIEF                                                         Rankings news /// Smith
decades. (Read more about                                                                                                                             should indicate that fact.                              Provost Michael Lewis is leading SLU’s educational enterprise.            Amphitheater /// Second-
Ma r y i n a spec ia l remem-                                                                                                                          The editor reserves the                                — By Laura Geiser                                                         largest class
brance on page 35.)                                                                                                                                       right to edit all items.
   Father John Padberg was a renowned scholar of             I draw inspirat ion from                                                                                                                         16                                                                        26
Jesuit history, a former academic vice president at       t hese beloved Billikens in                                                                      Address all mail to:
                                                                                                                                                                     Universitas                              DATA-DRIVEN INNOVATION                                                    CLASS NOTES
SLU, a SLU trustee, and a devoted Jesuit and friend.      our continually challenging
The impact of his career as an academic leader and        time. As the spring semester
                                                                                                                                                              DuBourg Hall 39                                 SLU researchers use data to tackle local and global issues.
                                                                                                                                                               1 N. Grand Blvd.                               — By Marie Dilg
member of the Society of Jesus is extraordinary. (You     started, we faced yet another                                                                   St. Louis, MO 63103                                                                                                           27
can read more on page 36.) Notably, in his work as        COVID-19 surge. It wasn’t the                                                                    We accept email at:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT
director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources in St. Louis, situation we had hoped for.                                                                                                                         18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Andrés J. Gallegos {Law ’93}
he served a critical role in the preservation and pro-    But as we’ve proven over the                                                                                                                        ABOVE THE FOLD
motion of the history of the Jesuits.                     last two years, Saint Louis                                                             Website:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Historic newspapers give students a fresh perspective on the past.
   These remarkable figures passed away within            University can thrive even in                                                                                                                       — By Marie Dilg                                                           28
two days of each other — Father Padberg at 95 years       hard times. Our community’s expertise, care and wise action made it possible for                Universitas is printed                                                                                                        HOW I GOT HERE
                                                                                                                                                           by Breese Printing
old, and Mary Bruemmer at 101. Their decades of           us to learn and work together in person. Our resilience and grace, and our ability                    and Publishing                                21                                                                        Marianne Muellerleile {A&S ’71}
devotion to SLU leave a legacy we continue and cele-      to act with the collective good in mind, made it possible to continue to advance our
brate. We see their passion for history as SLU faculty    noble mission.                                                                                                                                      SMALL CHANGE, BIG DIFFERENCE
                                                                                                                                                        Worldwide circulation:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Annual grants allow the SLU community to serve others.                     32
and students delve into the archive of newspapers            May God bless you and continue to bless Saint Louis University.                                          125,652
donated by alumnus Timothy Drone (page 18). We                                                                                                                                                                — By Bridjes O’Neil                                                       IN MEMORIAM
witness their commitment to Jesuit values in the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mary Bruemmer, 1920-2021
                                                                                                                                                 ©2022, Saint Louis University
innovative projects funded by the 1818 Community                                                                                                           All rights reserved.                               24                                                                        John Padberg, S.J., 1926-2021
Engagement Grant Program (page 21).                                                                                                                                                                           A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
                                                                                                                                                       Reproduction in whole
                                                          Dr. Fred P. Pestello,                                                                                                                               Midtown St. Louis is welcoming some old and new favorites.                 37
                                                                                                                                                            or in part without
                                                          President                                                                                   permission is prohibited.                               — By Amy Garland                                                          THE LAST LOOK
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University

                                                                                                                                      A rendering of the new soccer facility

                                                                                                                Billikens Soccer to Get
                                                                                                                New Locker Room Facility

                                                                                                                                                                               PHOTO BY STEVE DOLAN
                                                                                                                R     obert R. Hermann Stadium, home of the Saint
                                                                                                                      Louis University men’s and women’s soccer
                                                                                                                programs, is receiving an upgrade with the con-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Students at midyear
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              commencement on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dec. 18 at Chaifetz Arena
                                                                                                                struction of a new locker room and athletic training
                                                                                                                center building.
                                                                                                                   The 5,000-square-foot facility will be south of the                                SLU Holds Commencements in August, December                                                       Garcia Receives Nancy

                                                                                       PHOTOS BY BILL BARRETT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        McNeir Ring Award
                                                                                                                scoreboard, between the field and the Laclede Avenue
                                                                                                                sidewalk. It will house two 2,000-square-foot locker
                                                                                                                rooms for the men’s program and women’s program;
                                                                                                                                                                                                      S    aint Louis University’s May 2020 graduates finally got to celebrate their
                                                                                                                                                                                                         In August 2021, more than 600 graduates returned to St. Louis for a unique                     D      r. Christina Garcia, assistant professor of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Spanish, received the 2021 Nancy McNeir Ring
    Halvorsen                                                               Parker
                                                                                                                a state-of-the-art sports medicine facility; and a con-                               chance to take part in a ceremony that was supposed to happen 15 months earlier                   Award, SLU’s highest honor for teaching.
                                                                                                                ference room overlooking the pitch.                                                   but had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.                                            The award was established in 1966 by SLU’s chap-
FALL SOCCER SUCCESS                                                                                                Construction should be finished in time for the
                                                                                                                2022 spring season.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        University President Dr. Fred P. Pestello praised the graduates for their ability to            ter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor
                                                                                                                                                                                                      handle the challenges of completing their SLU education during a pandemic. He also                society, to acknowledge faculty members who dis-
                                                                                                                  “This project is made possible through the gener-                                   thanked them for coming back long after they had formally left.                                   play special dedication to students. It is SLU’s only
WOMEN CAPTURE FOURTH STRAIGHT A-10 TITLE                                                                        osity of the SLU soccer community, who share our                                         Dr. Tiffany Anderson (Ed ’94, Grad Ed ’01), the first African American female                  University-wide teaching award.

S    LU defeated Massachusetts in the A-10 Championship title game in November                                  vision of providing a transformational experience                                     superintendent of Topeka Public Schools, delivered the commencement address. She                     Garcia joined SLU in fall 2015. Her upper-level
     to become the first women’s soccer team in league history to capture four                                  for our student-athletes,” Chris May, director of                                     earned national acclaim for leading a turnaround of the Jennings School District, a               Spanish for the Health Professions class is a com-
consecutive conference tournament crowns. The Billikens placed third in the A-10                                athletics, said. “Pairing the new facility with the                                   predominantly African American school system in suburban St. Louis that was on                    munity-engaged course in which the students work
regular-season standings.                                                                                       recently renovated playing surface, we are con-                                       the verge of becoming unaccredited when she became superintendent in 2012.                        directly with a local immigrant-serving organization
   The Billikens made their sixth overall appearance — and fourth in as many                                    tinuing to make Hermann Stadium one of the finest                                       Anderson and several others received honorary doctoral degrees from SLU.                        for their service-learning project.
years — in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. After beating Ole Miss in the                                  venues in collegiate soccer.”                                                            St. Louis Archbishop Emeritus Robert J. Carlson received an honorary doctorate of                 Garcia was a unanimous selection by the commit-
first round, SLU lost to Rutgers.                                                                                                                                                                     divinity for his contributions to the growth and vitality of all the dioceses he has served,      tee. In their letter to Garcia, the committee called her a
   The team finished the season with a 13-9-1 record, playing 23 games, which ties                                                                                                                    his support of Catholic education, and his commitment to St. Louis and its citizens.             “role model for those lucky enough to be in her classes.”
a school record.                                                                                                                                                                                        The St. Louis Jesuits music group — Bob Dufford, S.J. (A&S ’67, Grad ’72, ’75), John               The Nancy McNeir Ring award was named in honor
                                                                                                                                             A rendering of the O’Loughlin
   Defender Brionna Halverson was selected to the 2021 NCAA Division I All-East                                                                  Family Champions Center
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Foley, S.J. (A&S ’68, Grad ’68, ’74), Tim Manion (A&S ’76), Robert “Roc” O’Connor, S.J.           of the University’s first dean of women. It was pre-
Region third team by the United Soccer Coaches. Halverson collected All-Region                                                                                                                        (A&S ’73) and Dan Schutte (A&S ’72) — received honorary doctorates of music for                   sented at the midyear commencement ceremony,
honors for a second time, becoming the 10th Billiken women’s soccer player to                                                                                                                         offering hope, inspiring worship and raising voices. Their music is heard in most of              where Garcia gave the commencement address.
earn All-Region recognition more than once.                                                                                                                                                           the nation’s 19,000 Catholic parishes and numerous Protestant churches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHOTO BY STEVE DOLAN
   Hannah Friedrich concluded the season with 29 career goals, tying for second                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Garcia
place on the SLU list. Friedrich added to her school-record game-winning goals
total, which now stands at 15, and reached second place on the Billikens’ career                                                                                                                      MIDYEAR COMMENCEMENT RETURNS
assists list with 35. Her 93 career points also rank second in program history.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Following a pandemic-caused cancellation in 2020, SLU’s in-person midyear com-
                                                                                                                                                                                                      mencement ceremony returned on Dec. 18.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         More than 200 graduates walked across the stage inside Chaifetz Arena. Pestello
                                                                                                                                                                                                      congratulated them on their achievement. “Today you join over two centuries
                                                                                                                Billikens Introduce O’Loughlin
T    he Billikens men’s soccer team finished the season with a 16-1-4 record,
     advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals and captured Atlantic 10 Conference                                     Family Champions Center
                                                                                                                                                                                                      of Billiken graduates,” he said. “I am proud of you and all that you have achieved
                                                                                                                                                                                                      despite the hardships of the pandemic since March 2020. You have persevered. … Be
regular-season and tournament titles. SLU went through the regular season with-
out a loss for the first time in 50 years.
  The team’s NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship quarterfinal appearance was
                                                                                                                A    new campus facility that will serve all Billiken stu-
                                                                                                                     dent-athletes is anticipated to open in May 2023.
                                                                                                                   The O’Loughlin Family Champions Center will
                                                                                                                                                                                                      proud of all the hard work and sacrifice you have endured to get to this place.”

their first in 18 years, but the team fell to the No. 2 seed Washington Huskies.                                deliver programming related to academic advising,
SLU finished the season ranked No. 7 in the United Soccer Coaches final poll. The                               spiritual development, sports performance, nutri-                                     NEW DEANS AND ADMINISTRATORS
Billikens’ 52 goals ranked third in the NCAA this season.                                                       tion, wellness and sports psychology. The building
  John Klein led the nation in total assists (15) and assists per game (0.75). Simon                            will feature leading-edge technology to help deliver
Becher, the 2021 Atlantic 10 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, finished the                              on the department’s strategic objectives, which are                                   Danielle Uy                                                                                          Donna Bess Myers (Grad Ed ’99)
season second in the NCAA in points (38) and sixth in goals (14).                                               to educate, compete and build community.                                              VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL                                                                   DEAN OF STUDENTS
  In January, SLU became only the third team in Major League Soccer history                                        Bob O’Loughlin, chairman and CEO of Lodging
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Uy joined SLU as an associate general counsel                                                          Myers oversees the Office of Student
to have four or more players selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft.                                 Hospitality Management and a SLU trustee, is one of                                   in 2008 and was promoted to senior associate                                                           Responsibility and Community Standards,
Freshman Isaiah Parker was the third pick overall by FC Dallas. Austin FC selected                              the primary benefactors of the project. Funding for                                   general counsel in 2013. She has served on                                                             Academic Support, as well as the Center for
Kipp Keller fifth, the Columbus Crew took Patrick Schulte 12th, and the Vancouver                               the $20 million facility will be 100% privately raised.                               several SLU committees and task forces, including the Operational                  Accessibility and Disability Resources (formerly known as the Office
Whitecaps chose Becher 16th. Two more SLU players, Chandler Vaughn and Chase                                       The 25,000-square-foot facility will be connected                                  Excellence Steering Committee, and she was chosen as a SLU                         of Disability Services). Myers has supported SLU students for more
Niece, were selected in the third round.                                                                        to Chaifetz Arena, on the northwest corner of the                                     Woman of the Year in 2019. Uy assumed her new responsibilities                     than 20 years in a variety of roles, including as assistant dean of
  In addition, United Soccer Coaches named the SLU men’s soccer coaching staff                                  Arena footprint. Construction will begin this spring                                  on Oct. 1. She succeeds Bill Kauffman, SLU’s longest-serving senior                students and interim director of the Cross Cultural Center for Global
NCAA Division I Southeast Region Staff of the Year. Fourth-year head coach Kevin                                and is expected to be finished in time for the May                                    leader, who continues to work part time as senior legal counsel and                Citizenship. The SLU Women’s Commission named her a Woman of
Kalish (CSB ’00) was the Atlantic 10 Conference Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year.                                 2023 commencement.                                                                    secretary of the University for this fiscal year.                                  the Year in 2008, and she later served as the group’s president.

2     U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               S P R I N G 2 02 2   3
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University

                                                                           C A M PA IGN N E W S

University Welcomes Second-Largest                                         SLU ANNOUNCES THIRD-LARGEST                                                                                                                                                           Diversity Division Renamed

                                                                                                                                                   PHOTOS BY JOE BARKER
Freshman Class                                                             FUNDRAISING YEAR EVER

T    he 2021-22 freshman class of 1,794 students is the sec-
      ond-largest in Saint Louis University history — trailing             S    aint Louis University continued its record-breaking fund-
                                                                                raising success by raising more than $71 million in fiscal year                                                                                       CHESS TEAM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 S   aint Louis University’s diversity efforts are now
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     at home in a division with a name that reflects
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 the expanded focus and a renewed commitment
                                                                           2021, making it the third-largest fundraising year in SLU history.                                                                                        WINS 2022 PAN-
2019’s record class.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   AMERICAN                  to transformation. The newly named Division of
   Here are some more facts and figures about this year’s first-year         “That we received this level of support during such a chal-                                                                                                                         Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement
students:                                                                  lenging time speaks to the commitment of our alumni and other                                                                                                 TEAM                    launched in October. Dr. Amber Johnson (A&S ’01,
                                                                           partners who want to ensure that the University continues to                                                                                             CHAMPIONSHIP                 Grad A&S ’02) is the division’s interim vice president.
 	The class of 2025 has an average GPA of 3.92.
                                                                           grow and thrive in the years ahead,” University President Dr. Fred                                                                                                                       The division now includes the executive directors,
 	Members of the class come from 46 American states and prov-                                                                                                                                                                        THE SAINT LOUIS
                                                                           P. Pestello said. “I thank each of them for their ongoing support.”                                                                                                                   faculty and staff of the Cross Cultural Center for Global
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    UNIVERSITY CHESS
   inces. The top five states outside of Missouri represented are             SLU’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. The $71                                                                                              TEAM WON THE              Citizenship (formerly the Cross Cultural Center) and
   Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Ohio and Nebraska.                     million raised in fiscal year 2021 came from nearly 15,000 indi-                                                                                             68TH ANNUAL              the Center for Social Action (formerly the Center for
 	Members of SLU’s freshman class hail from 27 countries.                 viduals, foundations and companies.                                                                                                                         PAN-AMERICAN              Service and Community Engagement).
 	The most popular majors are biology, nursing, exercise science,            The record-breaking fundraising has helped Accelerating                                                                                                INTERCOLLEGIATE
   health sciences, psychology, biochemistry and “still deciding.”         Excellence: The Campaign for Saint Louis University, the                                                                                                TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
   Overall, SLU’s total enrollment of 12,883 is the largest student        University’s ongoing fundraising campaign, get ever closer to                                                                                              IN JANUARY. SLU
                                                                                                                                                                          Dr. Kira Banks, associate professor of psychology,
                                                                           its $500 million goal. Currently in the third year of its public                               addresses the crowd during the Dr. Jonathan C. Smith        fielded two teams          SLU Meets Pandemic Challenges
body since 2016.
                                                                           phase, Accelerating Excellence has raised more than $490 mil-                                  Amphitheater dedication ceremony Oct. 25.                   in the tournament.         So Students Can Learn in Person
                                                                           lion. Since Jan. 1, 2021, the University has received 14 campaign                                                                                           The A Team was a

School of Science and Engineering
                                                                           gifts and pledges of $1 million or more, with three of them for $5
                                                                           million or more.
                                                                                                                                                                          SLU Dedicates Clock Tower
                                                                                                                                                                          Amphitheater in Smith’s Memory
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      perfect 6-0 — the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     only unbeaten team
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 G    uided by consensus science, staying true to SLU
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      values and using a range of public health strat-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 egies, SLU successfully returned to campus for the
and Reimagined College of Arts                                                As a comprehensive campaign, all contributions to the                                                                                                   at the tournament
and Sciences to Debut in July                                              University support one of its five strategic priorities: academic
                                                                           excellence, health sciences, business education, athletics and
                                                                                                                                                                          A    crowd gat hered on Oc t . 25 as Saint L ouis
                                                                                                                                                                               University formally dedicated the amphithe-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     — and finished first
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     overall. The B Team
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 2021-2022 academic year.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Campus was bustling, and transformative learning

S    aint Louis University is reorganizing its College of Arts and                                                                                                        ater near its iconic clock                                  finished with a 4-2        happened in person — with no documented cases of
                                                                           scholarships. Notably, the money raised in fiscal year 2021                                    tower to honor the legacy                                                              COVID-19 transmission in classrooms, lab spaces or
     Sciences and forming a new School of Science and Engineering                                                                                                                                                                    record and a tie for
                                                                           includes more than $8 million for student scholarships.                                        of Dr. Jonat ha n Sm it h,                                                             work environments. SLU issued a vaccine requirement
to better meet the future needs of SLU students and faculty.                                                                                                                                                                        10th out of 57 teams.
                                                                              The Accelerating Excellence campaign is on course to meet                                   SLU’s inaugural vice pres-                                                             before the fall semester, and more than 96% of students,
   Four departments in Arts and Sciences — Chemistry, Computer             or exceed the $500 million goal by June 30, 2022. Learn more at                                                                                           With the win, SLU
Science, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Physics — will                                                                                                               ident for diversit y and                                                               faculty and staff were fully vaccinated as classes began.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  qualified for the 2022
move to the new school, which also will become home to all disci-                                                                                                         community engagement,                                      Final Four College             The omicron variant brought new challenges to the
plines housed in SLU’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and                                                                                                         who pa s s e d aw ay s ud-                                Chess Championship.          beginning of the spring semester, but the University
Technology.                                                                                                                                                               denly on June 19. The area                               SLU will face UT Dallas,      effectively managed the surge of COVID cases with
   Key goals of the reorganizations include:                               NEW JESUIT CENTER RECEIVES                                                                     around the amphitheater                                 Texas Tech and Webster         updated testing, isolation and vaccine booster
 	To better address student success and educational outcomes, as          $2 MILLION CHALLENGE GRANT                                                                     recent ly was enhanced                                    University. The Final        requirements. With a high number of booster doses
                                                                                                                                                                          with additional spaces for                                                             administered and infection rates dropping midway
   well as focus efforts on key diversity, equity and inclusion goals.        n June 2021, the University received a $2 million grant from                                                                                          Four tentatively will
                                                                              the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation toward the construction                                  students to study, talk and                                be held in the first        through the spring term, the University is eyeing
 	To better align SLU’s arts, humanities, social sciences and sci-                                                                                                       collaborate.                The plaque honoring Smith      weekend of April.           ways to adjust its COVID-suppression efforts.
   ence programs to foster enhanced collaboration.                         of the Jesuit Center, a residential facility on SLU’s north cam-
                                                                           pus. To date, the University has raised $9 million of the center’s
   SLU began implementing changes during the spring semester,
                                                                           estimated $16.1 million cost. The Mabee Foundation grant is
with the new structures going into effect on July 1, 2022.
                                                                           contingent upon SLU raising the remaining $5.1 million needed
  “I am excited for the future and what these changes mean for our
                                                                           to complete the project and serves as a challenge to others to
current and future students, for our research endeavors, and for
                                                                           meet this goal. Gifts may be pledged over a period of five years
the impressive faculty and staff working in each college now and                                                                                                          RANKINGS
in the future,” said University Provost Dr. Michael Lewis.
                                                                           but must be committed by April 12.                                                                                    SLU Named Best Value for                         More Recent Rankings
                                                                              A collaboration between the University, its Jesuit community,                                                      Sixth Consecutive Year
   The University will continue to support students in Arts and                                                                                                                                                                                     SLU ranked No. 6 among                Academic Placement
                                                                           and the leadership of the Jesuit Central and Southern Province,
Sciences and Parks toward the completion of their chosen pro-                                                                                                                               SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED            Catholic colleges in the Wall        Data and Analysis ranked
                                                                           the Jesuit Center will be located on the north side of Laclede                                                                                                         Street Journal/Times Higher
gram of study. These changes will not impact their graduation                                                                                                             AGAIN AS ONE OF THE NATION’S BEST VALUES IN HIGHER EDUCATION                                                 SLU’s graduate program
                                                                           Avenue, just west of Spring Avenue. The center, which will include                                                                                                     Education 2022 college
timeline.                                                                                                                                                                 BY U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT IN ITS 2022 BEST COLLEGES                                                        in philosophy in the top-10
                                                                           bedrooms for Jesuits, a chapel, dining space and meeting rooms,                                                                                                        rankings, and ninth among
   The changes are the culmination of a two-year process that                                                                                                             UNDERGRADUATE RANKINGS, RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER.                                                               English-speaking graduate
                                                                           also will create a space for enhanced interaction between SLU’s                                                                                                        Midwestern universities
included extensive input from stakeholders in the two colleges                                                                                                            In the overall rankings, SLU remained No. 103 among nearly 400                                               programs in philosophy
                                                                           Jesuits and the wider community. As University President Dr.                                                                                                           located in cities. Overall, SLU
and across SLU’s campuses, including more than 40 listening                                                                                                               national universities.                                                                                       internationally.
                                                                           Fred P. Pestello said at the groundbreaking, the building will “be                                                                                                     ranked 113 out of more than
sessions and open forums with faculty, staff, students and admin-
                                                                           a place where our students, our faculty, our staff, members of the                             SLU also was recognized for excellence in teaching, ranking No.         600 universities nationwide.            Best Value Schools recently
istrators to receive feedback.
                                                                           community and others can gather to talk about how to fulfill our                               58 among national universities for Best Undergraduate Teaching.                                              ranked Parks College of
   The University will continue to honor the legacy of Oliver “Lafe”                                                                                                                                                                                Saint Louis University
                                                                           mission and celebrate this sacred faith at the center of who we are.”                                                                                                                                       Engineering, Aviation and
Parks, who donated his aviation school to SLU in 1946 with the                                                                                                            For the first time, U.S. News published Bachelor of Science in          has been named one of the
                                                                              To make a gift to the Jesuit Center, contact Sheila Manion,                                                                                                                                              Technology as the No. 10 best
Parks Department of Aviation Science in the newly established                                                                                                             Nursing rankings. SLU’s undergraduate nursing program was               nation’s top green schools in
                                                                           vice president for development, at or                                                                                                            The Princeton Review’s 12th          college in the country for
School of Science and Engineering.                                                                                                                                        ranked No. 43 out of 694 programs in the United States — in the
                                                                           314-977-2849.                                                                                  top 7% nationally.                                                      annual Guide to Green Colleges.      pilots and aviation.

4   U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                                                                                                                                                                          S P R I N G 2 02 2   5
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University
D       r. Jack Fishman teaches
        an undergraduate
        course about climate
change every semester at
Saint Louis University — and
                                                                                                                                         A Breath of Fresh Air
                                                                                                                                          DR. BENJAMIN DE FOY WAS ALWAYS INTO SCIENCE.
                                                                                                                                            In primary school in England, he designed an
                                                                                                                                                                                                     “I have a project in Korea, and we looked at that
                                                                                                                                                                                                   when COVID shut everything down,” he said. “All of

                                                                            University rese
each time, he said it feels more                                                                                                            energy-efficient house for a school project, spur-     a sudden, everything changed; we could ask, what
urgent than ever.
                                                                      u i s                                                                 ring his interest in the environment. And then         difference did that make? The circumstances set up a

“Last fall, in the first week of
                                                                  t Lo hope despite th arch                                                there was his interest in computer programming.         natural experiment to see before and after.”
 classes we were hearing about
                                                            a  i n s to                  e cl e                                               “We had a Commodore 64 at home. I think a fair          The obvious reduction in pollution “reminded us
 the unprecedented flooding in
                                                           S on                              im rs                                          number of us in my generation started program-
                                                                                                                                          ming that way,” de Foy said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                   that it’s nice to have good air,” de Foy said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     “But I don’t want people to think that atmospheric
 New Jersey from the remnants
                                                             a s                               at                                          Programming eventually led him to engineering, to                            scientists would just like to close
 of Hurricane Ida that devastated
 Louisiana, the record wildfires                                                                                                        Cambridge for a doctorate, and to Massachusetts for a                               the economy down,” he con-
 in California, the hottest                                                                                                          job at an environmental consulting                                                       tinued. “Long-term actions

                                                                                                                                  firm that wasn’t exactly the right fit.                                                      have been show n to work

 temperatures ever measured in

                                               fi n

                                                                                                      is i
 both Oregon and Washington,                                                                                   “It was mostly working for industry,” he said. “But I                                                           and to be consistent with
 and the prolonged drought                                                                                   wanted to be working more for the environment.”                                                                    economic growth. Just look

 throughout the western United                                                                                  De Foy moved on to the Massachusetts Institute                                                                 at the recovery of bald eagles
 States. All at once. Tens of                                                                                of Technology, where he worked with Dr. Mario                                                                   in the wild following environ-
 millions affected,” he said. “So,                                                                           Molina, the Nobel Prize recipient who predicted the                                                           mental controls going back to

                                                              The Heat of
 yes, we talk about the climate                                                                              ozone hole, on the Mexico City Project. De Foy joined                                                       the 1970s.”
 as the crisis it is. Hopefully, the                                                                         the project as a computer modeler, analyzing satel-                                                          Overall, de Foy is hopeful about
 students become inspired to do                                                                              lite data to illustrate the patterns of pollution that                                                    the environment.
 something about it.”                                                                                        stemmed from urban areas and industrial complexes                                                           “Air pollution science can reas-

                                                             the Moment
There is no denying that the                                                                                 as well as an active volcano.                                                                             su re us t hat i f we wa nt to, we
climate is in crisis. As a Jesuit                                                                              “With air pollution, everybody’s always trying to                                                      can work on climate change,” he
university, SLU is in a unique                                                                               blame somebody else: Oh, it’s the volcano’s fault,” de                                                  said. “We’ve been dealing with air
position to illustrate that we                                                                               Foy said. “But we clearly showed that the volcano was                                                   pollution for decades, and we have
have a moral obligation to do                                                                                emitting very high up into the free atmosphere, where                                                    much, much cleaner air now. A bet-
something about it.                                                                                          pollution just blows away, while this big petrochemical                                                   ter future is possible — we need
                                                                                                             industrial complex emitted pollution straight into the                                                    to imagine that so we can work
Fishman (Grad A&S ’74, ’77),
a professor of earth and
                                                                          – By Amy Garland                   city. Both are having an impact, but one is a bigger                                                      toward it.”
atmospheric sciences, knew                                       Illustrations by Robert Neubecker           impact.”
                                                                                                                Since joining the faculty in SLU’s Department of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         De Foy frequently gives public
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       talks across the St. Louis region
this as he coordinated the Saint
Louis Climate Summit hosted                                             Photos by Steve Dolan                Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in 2006, de Foy                                                           about his research and climate
by the University in 2018, a                                                                                 has used data mining and computer modeling to                                                            change, emphasizing the need for
response to Pope Francis’ 2015                                                                               study air pollution everywhere from St. Louis to                                                          vision, personal action and societal
encyclical on climate change,                                                                                Southeast Asia.                                                                                             change.
Laudato Si’.                                                                                                    His most recent project is in collaboration                                                                 He also broaches the subject
“At our Jesuit university, we                                                                                with Duke University, analyzing data from                                                                   with his students. Last fall he
 recognize that what St. Ignatius                                                                            Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan                                                                taught a course about climate
 called ‘the gifts of God’ are                                                                               and the Maldives to eventually improve air                                                              change to first-year students in the
 intended for all in our world,”                                                                             quality and human health. The research team will monitor concentrations of                  pilot program of the Ignite Seminar, which is
 said David J. Suwalsky, S.J.                                                                                particulate matter in the air, determine specific sources — such as traffic, fossil   part of the University’s new core curriculum. And
 (Grad A&S ’89, ’10), SLU’s                                                                                  fuel combustion and industrial sources — and formulate a strategy to reduce           although the subject can be polarizing, de Foy almost
 vice president for mission                                                                                      pollution to healthier levels.                                                    always finds his students very open to the science. He
 and identity. “It is a matter                                                                                        Because his work is performed essentially in front of a computer, de Foy     also reminds them exactly what’s at stake.
 of justice above all, that all                                                                                     doesn’t typically travel for projects — which meant he didn’t                                        “I ask my students, ‘How often
 peoples have available to them                                                                                      have to slow down much during the pandemic. In fact,                                                 do you wake up in the morning
 these gifts — the most basic
                                                                                                                        he found himself analyzing the effects of everyone                                                   and just say thank you for your
 including clean air and water,
                                                                                                                            else slowing down.                                                                                first breath of fresh air?’” he
 and climate that nurtures
 possibility rather than disaster.”
Nurturing possibility rather
than disaster — the five
professors featured here do
just that. By looking to the air
and water, the food we eat, and
the animals we share this planet
with, these researchers are
doing their part to make sure
the gifts of God are not lost.

6    U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                                                                                                            S P R I N G 2 02 2   7
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University
Testing the Waters                                                                                                                                  The Root of the Matter
                             THE FACT IS, HUMAN BEINGS CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT                Knouft said the model developed by his team can                                       A S THE SAY ING GOES, YOU                The goal is to develop perennial crops with superior robustness and plasticity,
                             WATER. And increasingly, worldwide, water is a problem.      be adapted for other projects.                                                              A R E W H AT YOU E AT. Dr.         enabling them to thrive in a range of climates. In 2021, the team was awarded a one-
                              According to the United Nations, about 4 billion people       “Several agencies, nongovernmental organizations                                           A l l i son M i l le r w a nt s   year, no-cost extension to continue the work.
                           — nearly two-thirds of the global population — experi-         and the state are interested in the model,” he said.                                         what we eat to be sus-              “We’re never going to feed the world with grapevines, true,” she said. “But this is
                              ence severe water scarcity at least one month a year. An   “We’ve used it in Illinois to ask questions about agri-                                       taining not just for us,          a model. What we learn with grapes is relevant for apples and oranges and walnuts
                              estimated 700 million people worldwide could be dis-        culture and climate change.”                                                              but also for the planet.             and nectarines — anything that’s grafted and grows on a sort of woody vine.”
                              placed by water scarcity by 2030.                              Knouft’s other recent undertaking has an even                                            “Plants are the answer.               Miller describes the second category of her research as “reimagining major agri-
                              “It’s fundamentally important to society,” Dr. Jason        bigger scope. Funded by t he Nat ional Science                                           My work is exploring plant            cultural systems.”
                       Knouft said. “Everything on the planet — economic and              Foundation, it’s a biodiversity informatics project                                    d iversit y, u nderst a nd i ng            A bit of background: Agriculture is the world’s largest and most rapidly expanding
              social systems, natural resources, bio-                                     involving nearly every section of stream in almost                                  it a nd t h i n k i ng about how           ecosystem in the world, and a major contributor to climate change. It’s estimated
diversity — is dependent on water. These                                                          every river system throughout the United                                  it might be applied in ag r i-                                                  that half of the world’s topsoil has been lost in the
systems evolved with the expectation                                                                States and Canada. The team, which                                    c u lt u re ,” s he sa id . “ My                                                         last 150 years.
of a certain amount of water being                                                                    included labs at Indiana and Tulane uni-        students hear me carry on about plants all                                                                         Miller wants to change that.
available. Understanding how they’ll                                                                   versities, examined and projected water        the time.”                                                                                                           “Through their root systems, plants con-
change in the future is crit ical to                                                                   volume and temperature from 1950 to               A professor of biology, Miller is on                                                                             nect the atmosphere to the soil. If we can
adapting to a changing climate.”                                                                        2099.                                         campus each week to teach. But her lab                                                                              learn about specific attributes of the root
   K nouf t is a professor in SLU’s                                                                       “You can see what the water quan-           is off campus at the Donald Danforth                                                                                system, their effects on the soil and their
Depa r t ment of Biolog y, a nd h is                                                                    tity and temperature look like now in a       Center for Plant Science in St. Louis                                                                               capacity to store greenhouse gases such
research in the St. Louis region and                                                                     given stream, and then how it will look      County, where it’s been for the past                                                                                as carbon dioxide, then we might be able
across North America could have a                                                                        in June 2050, for example,” Knouft said.     four years (and where SLU undergrad-                                                                                to construct an agricultural system of
serious ripple effect.                                                                                  “The idea is that ecologists, biodiversity    uate and graduate students take part in                                                                             species that make products that people
   In a recent project funded by The                                                                     scientists, natural resource managers,       her research). Miller is in a joint faculty                                                                          can eat, that they can harvest mechani-
Nat u re C onser va nc y, h is t ea m’s                                                                   state and federal planners — whoever        partnership, serving as a member and                                                                                 cally, that work within our agricultural
goal was to understand how climate                                                                         cares about water — should be able to      principal investigator at the Danforth                                                                               economy, but that provide regenerative
change will affect the Meramec River                                                                       use these data.”                           Center in addition to her role at SLU. She                                                                           ecosystem services as well,” she said.
watershed.                                                                                                     Knouft used it to investigate the      does fieldwork across the region.                                                                                       So, what’s on the menu instead? One
   The Meramec, a tributary to the                                                                          impact of dams on fish movement as           Her research is a direct response to the                                                                         item might be Kernza, a perennial mem-
Mississippi River, is a popular spot                                                                        climate changes, mostly on the East       climate crisis.                                                                                                     ber of the wheatgrass family that’s been
for floating, fishing and swimming.                                                                          Coast of the United States, as well as     “In the broadest sense, we’re thinking                                                                            developed over the last couple of decades.
But beyond recreation, the Meramec                                                                            biodiversity responses in Alabama.      about agricultural systems that will be                                                                            Last fall, The Washington Post w rote
is an irreplaceable resource, providing                                                                       And although other applications         sustainable in our changing climate,”                                                                              about Kernza’s capacity to address cli-
drinking water for more than 200,000                                                                           are myriad, further research must      Miller said. “We recognize that we’re                                                                                mate change, and Whole Foods named
people in the region. It is also, as Knouft                                                                    wait.                                  basically using all of the arable land we                                                                            it one of their top 10 food trends for 2022.
put it, “a biodiversity hotspot,” with a                                                                          On sabbat ical t his academic       have, and that we have a rapidly grow-                                                                               Miller uses it in her research. Her family
greater number of freshwater species                                                                         year, Knouft is working as an analyst    ing population. We’re trying to think                                                                              uses it in pancakes.
compared to almost any similarly sized                                                                  for the U.S. State Department. Thanks         about what our food will look like, given                                                                            “We buy Kernza flour and substitute it in
river system in North America.                                                                         to a Jefferson Science Fellowship, he’s        these changing conditions.”                                                                                      our recipes. It’s delicious,” she said. Some
  “We wanted to understand how cli-                                                                   advising the Office of the Geographer              Miller’s research falls into two cate-                                                                       people make beer with it. But Miller is realistic
mate change is going to influence how                                                                       and Global Issues in the Bureau of        gories: One, improving existing crops for                                                                      about how hard change can be, especially with
much water will be in the watershed, its                                                                      Intelligence and Research about         changing climates; and two, developing new                                                                  something as personal as food.
temperature and how much sediment                                                                              issues related to water and climate    crops for the agricultural systems of the future.                                                           “It doesn’t have to be that every last wheat
will be pushed into the river,” Knouft said.                                                                   change.                                   In the first category is the Vitis Underground                                                    and corn plant is gone,” she said. “It just needs to be
   As the climate changes, he explained,                                                                         This work harkens back to his        project. In 2016, Miller was awarded a $4.6 million                                             enough to start tipping the balance in favor of longer-term
the region will experience more intense                                                                    belief that everything in society is       grant by the National Science Foundation to lead a                 sustainability.”
rainfall and f looding. That in turn will                                                             tied to water. He said his students seem        multi-institution team of researchers in understand-                  Miller has partnered for years with a Kansas nonprofit called The Land Institute
increase the amount of sediment — including nitrogen and phosphorus — that                to understand this implicitly.                              ing how root systems of grapevines affect the rest of              to work toward developing an agricultural system that mimics natural ecosystems,
flows into the river, changing its chemical makeup.                                         “Their concerns are all woven together: water scar-       the plant.                                                         with perennial plants that grow side-by-side instead of in single-crop fields.
   The Nature Conservancy wanted to know if they could remediate that problem in          city, climate change, social equality, economics,”             Nearly all grapes grow on vines that are grafted,                  Similar research is being conducted as part of the Danforth Center’s New Roots for
a way that will have long-lasting benefits.                                               Knouft said. “Which is actually incredibly appro-           which means that the roots are genetically different               Restoration Biology Integration Institute, a collaboration between eight organizations.
   The simple answer: Plant trees.                                                        priate because you can’t tease apart climate change         from the top part of the plant.                                    Miller developed the proposal to support this institute, and is now serving as the direc-
   Called “riparian buffers,” trees planted along the edge of the river will capture      from social systems. We’re not going to be able to             Miller explained: “We collect data from the above-              tor of this five-year, $12.5 million initiative funded by the National Science Foundation.
some of the sediment and contaminants running off the landscape. They’ll also             deal with it in a vacuum.”                                  ground portion — from the leaves, the flowers, the                    She’s optimistic about what her team, her students and in fact any of us can do in
shade the river and cool the water, an added benefit when it’s predicted that climate                                                                 fruits — and study how those traits change as a func-              facing the climate crisis.
change could increase water temperature in the Meramec by about three degrees                                                                         tion of their root system.”                                          “The climate is certainly changing, but there’s a lot that we can do to adapt our
Celsius.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 agricultural systems,” she said. “It’s exciting to be a part of this positive change.”

8   U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                                                                                                                                                                      S P R I N G 2 02 2   9
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University
All Creatures, Large …                                                                                                                                           … and Small
                             A S H E T ELL S H IS STORY, DR .      per unit volume than fast-growing trees. Thus, the elephants enable the forest to                                               THE AVERAGE PERSON PROBABLY THINKS OF INSECTS AS                applied for the grant that supports her lab’s current
                              STEPHEN BL A K E’S ROLE              sequester and store more carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. If forest ele-                                               PESTS, SWATTING THEM AWAY OR TRYING TO ELIMINATE                research, she wrote into the application that she
                               AS A RESEARCHER OF                  phants disappear, over time the forest will become dominated by fast-growing tree                                               THEM ALTOGETHER. Not Dr. Kasey Fowler-Finn.                     wanted to collaborate with Vitiello again.
                               M E G A-V E RT E B R AT E S WA S                                                                                                                                        An associate professor of biology, Fowler-Finn finds
                              SERENDIPITOUS.                       species, and its carbon-storage potential will drop.                                                                                                                                               The result — an exhibit called “Too Hot To Sing”
                                                                     “Forest elephants are forest gardeners that help maintain the extraordinary biodi-                                             insects to be an endless source of information about how       — demonstrated how global warming may influence
                              “I didn’t want a normal job,
                                                                   versity of central African forests, but they are rapidly facing extinction,” Blake said.                                         organisms might adapt to climate change.                       communication in vibrational insects. It opened at
                            and I like being outdoors,”
                                                                  “From a climate perspective, all of their positive effect on carbon and their myriad                                                Insects provide the foundation for ecosystems: They          the Saint Louis University Museum of Art in March
                            he said. “After university,
                                                                   other ecological roles will be lost.”                                                                                            pol l i nate c rops, c yc le                                   2020 and eventually went online due to the pan-
                            I wrote to a zoo and asked
                                                                      From the Congo, Blake moved to the Galapagos Islands and studied its famous                                                   nutrients through                                                  demic. (Listen at
                            for a job, any job. ‘A window
                                                                   tortoises.                                                                                                                      the soil, help                                                          “It’s mind-blowing how beautiful their songs
                           cleaner and path sweep —
                                                                     “These are charismatic, globally known animals, but despite their fame, we don’t                                            control the pop-                                                                  are,” she said. “It’s a nice way to get
                         you want that?’ Fair enough.
                                                                   know much about their ecology,” Blake said.                                                                                 ulations of other                                                                     people interested in insects — and
                        That morphed into becoming
                      a gorilla keeper in England.                                                     This curiosity led to the founding of the Galapagos                               organisms, and more.                                                                          to show how insect song and com-
                   Then they set up a gorilla                                                              Tortoise Movement Ecology Program in 2009.                          If rising temperatures affect a                                                                         munication are affected by climate
protection project in Congo and asked me                                                                         Initially, Blake and a group of migration              certain species, the entire ecosystem                                                                          change.”
if I wanted to work there. One thing leads                                                                      biologists wanted to see if the giant tor-              could suffer. We need to pay atten-                                                                              Fowler-Finn isn’t just interested
to another.”                                                                                                     toises migrate over long distances (they               tion to them.                                                                                               in the way insects sound, though; she
    In Blake’s case, gorillas led to ele-                                                                        do) and then, why (the availability of                   “Plus, they’re adorable!” Fowler-Finn                                                                also has studied the way they look.
phants led to tor toises, w it h ot her                                                                           food for foraging). Next, they wanted                 said. She was speaking specifically about                                                              In research published last summer, she had
species along the way. He describes his                                                                           to find out if the tortoises would adjust             the treehopper, a half-centimeter-long                                                              the opportunity to work on dragonflies. This
work as “muddy boots conservation and                                                                             migration in response to varying envi-                insect and a subject of her research.                                                               project, led by Dr. Michael P. Moore of the
research” — studying movement ecol-                                                                                ronmental conditions.                                   A few years ago, the National Science                                                            Living Earth Collaborative, examined wing
ogy, how animals travel from one place                                                                                To date, more than 120 GPS devices                Foundation granted Fowler-Finn just                                                                 ornamentation in male dragonflies to see if it
to another and why.                                                                                                have been fitted to track Galapagos                  over $640,000 to study how changing                                                                 changed as the temperature rose.
    Blake, an assistant professor of biology,                                                                       tortoises. Before the pandemic, Blake               temperatures affect treehoppers’ mat-                                                                 “We found that the pigmentation of the males’
refers to himself as “the oldest junior                                                                             returned to the islands every year. The             ing behavior.                                                                                       wings evolves really consistently in response
facult y at SLU,” hav ing come to the                                                                              research is ongoing.                                    During mating season, male tree-                                                                to climate,” Fowler-Finn said. “It’s among the
University a few years ago after decades                                                                               Like forest elephants, the tortoises             hoppers serenade potential mates                                                                   most predictable evolutionary response ever
of work in the field.                                                                                              disperse the seeds of plants, both native            w it h “song s” se nt a s v i brat ion s                                                            observed for a mating-related trait.”
    He started in the Congo Basin working                                                                         to Galapagos and introduced species.                  t hrough pla nt stems. If a fema le                                                                    As the climate warmed, the male drag-
for the Wildlife Conservation Society,                                                                          Unfortunately, due to their long-distance               treehopper likes what she hears, she                                                                onflies adapted by changing their melanin
and ended up spending 17 years                                                                                   seed-dispersa l when mig rat ing, tor-                 hums back in reply, which starts a duet                                                             ornamentation, which absorbs solar radi-
in central A frica doing conser-                                                                                 toises may inadvertently be increasing                 and leads to mating. But temperature                                                                ation and can heat them above ambient
vation and applied research with                                                                                      the distribution of invasive species,             changes can alter the ambience. At                                                                  temperatures. The new pigmentation made
elephants, which faced extinction                                                                                       particularly as climate change is               some temperatures, male treehoppers                                                                  them appear less male than usual.
due to poaching for the ivory trade.                                                                                     increasing habitats suitable for               can sound like different species, which                                                                 “However, females responded in a totally
While there, he collected data on                                                                                        these species. A warmer, wetter                could confuse females.                                                                               different way,” she said. “This shows that
forest structure and species compo-                                                                                      Galapagos in the future, coupled                 “Their song is tied into muscle vibrations,                                                      mating-related traits can be as important as
sition in the Nouabalé-Ndoki Forest.                                                                                    w it h t o r t o i s e g a rde n i n g , m ay   and the hotter it is, the faster their muscles                                                 survival-related traits to how organisms adapt to
    He revisited that data set a few years                                                                           threaten native habitats.                          vibrate,” Fowler-Finn explained.                                                           climate, but we also need to account for the fact that
ago, when a group of colleagues developed a                                                                        “Seasonal climate stability drives many                 Her team wanted to know if female treehoppers, in turn, might change what               the sexes may have different solutions to the same
computer model to investigate what happens to the                  long-distance migrations. For various reasons, this is in global peril as we over-harvest            songs they like best. The good news is that they do, according to the research.            problem.”
forest over time as elephants forage (that is, browse              migratory species, destroy habitat and change the climate,” Blake said. “That impacts                  “The conclusion is that with increasing temperatures, you’re not going to get a dis-        When she’s not in the lab, Fowler-Finn teaches
on tree foliage). The findings revealed how elephants              the species’ evolutionary fitness: the reproductive potential, their body condition, their           ruption of mating,” she said. “Females will still be able to identify the proper species   evolutionary biology at both the undergraduate and
provide a crucial function to the health of the planet.            risk to disease. I initially wasn’t working with these species for climate change reasons,           and select males based off their song.”                                                    graduate level. She has led more than 50 SLU under-
    Forest elephants prefer fast-growing tree species.             but inevitably they’re closely tied.”                                                                   But that’s not all.                                                                     graduates in hands-on research, through which
As they browse, they knock off tree limbs and break                   Blake is involved with other research projects— one involving bison on the Dunn                     “They’re actually pretty robust in terms of temperature change,” she said. “Both         many have co-authored scientific articles. She’s been
shrubs. The computer model simulated feeding and                   Ranch Prairie in northern Missouri; another a collaboration with the Forest Park                     males and females seem to be active at hotter temperatures, which is good. And we          at SLU since 2014, her first faculty position. It’s been
breakage rates along with elephant mortality rates to              Living Lab — but since joining SLU’s faculty, he’s spent most of his time teaching.                  found that when they develop at a hotter temperature, it increases their tolerance to      a great fit for her.
see their effect on certain woody plants.                          He said he can be “a bit of a doom-and-gloom specialist.”                                            the heat, which is important in terms of climate change and survival.”                       “The Jesuit tradition is deeply rooted in the sci-
    The team found that as elephants eat on fast-grow-               “To me, you can’t possibly teach introductory biology without bringing home the                       In addition to finding the treehoppers adorable and adaptable, Fowler-Finn              entific process and discovery,” she said. “And SLU
ing tree species, they damage and kill young plants                fact that biodiversity is in absolute tatters and is getting worse by the day,” he said.             appreciates hearing their music herself.                                                   students are taught to think critically. They tend to
— which changes the composition of the forest                        “I try to convince all these pre-medical students to give up their med school goals                   While working at a field station at the University of Virginia, she met sound artist    be evidence-based thinkers, in my experience. And
toward slow-growing species. These trees have                      and become planetary doctors instead,” he continued. “Because if we don’t get a                      Steven Vitiello who was there as an artist-in-residence. The two collaborated in 2015      this makes working with them in the classroom and
denser wood and, therefore, store more carbon                      handle on climate change and biodiversity loss, there won’t be anyone left to treat.”                on an exhibit that made plant-borne sound audible to humans. When Fowler-Finn              laboratory fun and productive.” UTAS

10    U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                                                                                                                                                                         S P R I N G 2 02 2   11
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University
                                                                                                  Academic-in- Chief

                                                                                                          Provost Mike Lewis

                                                                                                          puts listening at the

                                                                                                          heart of leadership
                                                                                                                                   FOR THOSE WHO DON’T WORK in academia — or
                                                                                                                                   who graduated from Saint Louis University before
                                                                                                                                   the 1990s — the title of provost might be unfamil-
                                                                                                                                   iar. Even researching the word might not help, since
                                                                                                                                  Webster’s New World Dictionary offers several defini-
                                                                                                                                   tions, including “the chief magistrate of a Scottish
                                                                                                                                   burgh” and “a jailer.”
                                                                                                                                      Though a university provost leads and maintains
                                                                                                                                   order, those definitions don’t quite hit the mark.
                                                                                                          in a time of change.
                                                                                                                                   However, the definition listed last in Webster’s does:
                                                                                                                                  “in certain American universities, an administrative
                                                                                                                                   official dealing chiefly with faculty, curriculum, etc.”
                                                                                                                                   At SLU, the provost is integral to the University’s
                                                                                                                                   operations, serving as the chief academic officer and
                                                                                                          — By Laura Geiser        overseeing the entire educational enterprise.
                                                                                                                                      SLU named its first provost in 1989; its current pro-
                                                                                                                                   vost, Dr. Mike Lewis, was appointed in February 2021.
                                                                                                                                   And though Lewis may be relatively new to the job, he
                                                                                                                                   is not new to the University. He joined the SLU faculty
                                                                                                                                   in 2004 as an assistant professor of chemistry. Along
                                                                                                                                   the way, he found his calling in administration by
                                                                                                                                   serving in several executive positions, including as
                                                                                                                                   associate provost, interim dean of the College of Arts
                                                                                                                                   and Sciences, and interim provost.
                                                                                                                                      Lewis, who hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, didn’t
                                                                                                                                   start his studies dreaming of being a provost one day.
                                                                                                                                   He wanted to teach chemistry. He got his doctorate
                                                                                                                                   in chemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia,
                                                                                                                                   which led to postdoctoral research in Har vard
                                                                                                                                   University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical
                                                                                                                                   Biology. Next came SLU, where he has spent nearly
                                                                                                                                   18 years.
                                                                                                                                      In this interview with Universitas, Lewis shares
                                                                                                                                   what drew him to SLU, what he’s learned along the
                                                                                          Lewis                                    way and his plans for the future.

          12   U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                               S P R I N G 2 02 2   13
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University
UTAS: What attracted you to SLU? And what has kept you here?                                   As provost, much of my job is listening to people,         we don’t have the time, bandwidth or energy to over-      THE LEWIS FILE                   And student development is similar. The student
LEWIS: As associate provost and now as provost, I’ve been involved in new faculty            really hearing what they say and listening to them to        see the programs that are really impacting students if                                  experience doesn’t end when they leave the class-
                                                                                             the extent that they might change my mind. Ultimately,       we’re putting that same effort into programs that are     FA MILY:                      room. The co-curricular experience is incredibly
orientation for close to 10 years. And one of the things I say to the new faculty during
                                                                                             changing your mind or modifying a decision is not a          highly under-enrolled.                                    I met my wife, Heather,       important. Student learning happens in the res-
orientation is that I came to SLU in large part for the same reasons they came here:
                                                                                             point of weakness, but a point of strength. And the                                                                    at the University of          idence halls. It happens in the clubs with faculty
I needed a job, and this was a very attractive one. I wanted to work at a place that                                                                         Our program review process is about doing the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Missouri-Columbia. She
offered a balance between research and teaching. That was important to me, and               more you know, the better you’re able to do that.            very best job possible with the great resources we                                      liaisons, where the collaboration and overlap are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    is a faculty member in
this was a place where it clearly seemed like I could pursue both of those.                                                                               have. We’re a resource-rich environment, but we                                         deep. I think the provost should be overseeing that
                                                                                             What’s the best part about being provost?                                                                              our School of Social
   When I got here, I very quickly took to the mission, but that’s something I grew                                                                       still have our limits. So, we’re going to end up clos-    Work, and she is an
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  part of the student experience.
to understand and experience after I arrived. And so, though I came for the research         I get to interact with all the different people at SLU and   ing probably between 10 and 15% of our programs,                                           Additionally, our faculty’s research defines us as a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    amazing support.
and teaching, I’m here nearly 18 years later because of how much the mission has             see all the great things that are being done. We have so     affecting less than 2% of our students. In spring of                                    university. Our wonderful faculty impact the world
                                                                                             many great people here. Then, highly related to that,        2020, we proposed 40 programs for closure. Since          We’ve got two kids,           not just through the classroom where they’re teach-
resonated with me. I truly believe in the mission and appreciate how much it
                                                                                             it’s rewarding to have the agency to impact change           that time, 33 programs for closure have already been      Jack and Grace, who           ing, but also through their scholarship.
impacts so many people.                                                                                                                                                                                             are 15 and 12. And they
                                                                                             and move the University in a direction that I think the      announced as finalized. I’ve changed my mind about                                         And then, how we interface with and how we
As a chemist and professor, what motivated you to make that leap from the                    community wants to go to put us in a stronger place.                                                                   understand that my job
                                                                                                                                                          four programs. That leaves three.                                                       serve an increasingly diverse society is central to our
classroom to the administration?                                                                                                                                                                                    is one that the entire
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mission. And so having diversity and innovative com-
                                                                                             What is the most challenging part of the job?                Is this review of programs common in univer-              family needs to be in for.
There was never any one thing. It was a progression. I had a history with teach-                                                                                                                                    The family is great about     munity engagement report to the provost, I think, is
ing centers going back to Mizzou. These are places where I always felt at home.              In an institution this size — and we’re not alone, all       sities?                                                                                 natural. We all need to think about diversity in terms
So, during my first week on this campus, I sought out SLU’s Reinert Center for               of higher ed is like this — there’s institutional inertia.   Yes, and we’re fortunate that we’re able to do this                                     of the student body and student experience — and
Transformative Teaching and Learning. I began working with the center around                 Nobody ever wants to say, “We’re doing this because          in a manner that is more thoughtful. Some univer-         FIRST JOB:                    also in terms of the faculty body and everything we
faculty-focused topics such as progression toward tenure and innovative teaching. I          that’s how we’ve always done it.” Everybody under-           sities are struggling to the extent that they’re not      Working at a pizza joint      can do to make sure we continue to be an increas-
became a faculty fellow at the Reinert Center, and I enjoyed it.                             stands that’s a really bad reason to continue doing          going through the same community input process                                          ingly inclusive place. We should be a welcoming
                                                                                             something. But there are a lot of things that we do for                                                                BOOK TO RECOMMEND:
  Then when Dr. Ellen Harshman became the interim provost, she noted that we                                                                              that we’re going through; they’re just closing depart-                                  place for everybody, regardless of their background
                                                                                             that reason. We’ve been around for 204 years now, and                                                                  What I’m reading right
did not have an associate provost overseeing faculty affairs and faculty develop-                                                                         ments and firing faculty. We’re in a very fortunate                                     or experiences. And so, we need to lead with diversity,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    now is Just Mercy by
ment. So, she started looking for someone. Somebody                                          our efforts have served us well. There are people who        position. I know it doesn’t feel that way for those                                     ensuring it is inherently part of who we are. It’s the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bryan Stevenson. My
put my name forward. That was back in 2013, and the                                          view stability as a way of living our mission. The diffi-    whose programs are closing, but we’re not laying off                                    right thing to do.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    favorite book that I’ve
                                                                                             cult part is to show people that we can still be authentic   any faculty because of this. And we are not closing
rest is history.
                                                              ... it’s rewarding             to who we are, still live our mission, but we can do it in   any departments. Most of our departments house
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    read multiple times is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the Road by Jack
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Why was it time to have a common core curricu-
You’ve held many administrative positions —
associate provost, acting provost, interim dean.
                                                                     to have the             a different way that serves an evolving society.             multiple programs, and they can direct students           Kerouac.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lum for all undergraduates?
                                                                                                                                                          from closing programs to one of their other programs.                                   First and foremost, it’s important to recognize we
What did you learn in those roles that prepared                        agency to             Can you discuss your efforts to develop an aca-
                                                                                                                                                          This is not affecting enrollment. This is really about    FAVORITE MOVIES:              didn’t have a University-wide core curriculum. We’ve
you for today? And what made you want the pro-                                               demic strategic plan?                                                                                                  The Star Wars movies,         had a robust core in the College of Arts and Sciences
                                                                                                                                                          how we do our work.
vost job permanently?                                          impact change                 I am collaborating with the deans and the Faculty                                                                      especially the originals      and in other colleges and schools, but nothing that
                                                                                                                                                          What can you share about the College of Arts and
All of those roles, to varying degrees, prepare you for          and move the                Senate and the faculty leadership, the staff, the stu-
                                                                                             dents, the entire University and community on an             Sciences reorganization?                                  T V SHOW YOU ’D
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  was SLU-wide. And I do think having a University-
this work. They offered different responsibilities for                                                                                                                                                              RECOMMEND:                    wide, Jesuit, mission-based core that speaks to a
managing people, hearing their concerns and learn-                 University in             academic strategic planning process. I envision it           I announced my final decision on the A&S reorg in         Ted Lasso. It makes me        common Saint Louis University experience, regard-
                                                                                             taking us the remainder of the current academic year,        mid-December. (See the story on page 4.) Essentially,     laugh.                        less of which college or school you’re in, is very
ing to listen really well — learning to help people find
their own desires in the positions that they hold.
                                                                      a direction            and I envision it being a strategic plan that lasts for      we merged some science departments (Chemistry,                                          important.
  As associate provost for all those years, I got a             that I think the             approximately three years.
                                                                                                The academic strategic plan will be different from
                                                                                                                                                          Computer Science, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences          SPORTS TE A M:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The St. Louis Blues
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Beyond the primary mission-based reasons for a
University-wide perspective on the impact of all that                                                                                                     and Physics) with the Engineering and Aviation                                          common core curriculum, there are practical reasons,
we do in teaching, research and service. But even as                 community               the University’s strategic plan, which operates at a         Science departments from Parks College to form a          FAVORITE BAND:                too. For example, it’s hard for students to switch to
                                                                                             broader level for the entire institution. For exam-          new School of Science and Engineering. I gave the                                       different majors in other colleges or schools because
associate provost, there isn’t always a lot of agency
to affect change. Yet, I had seen potential, so being
                                                                    wants to go              ple, the University’s strategic plan has priorities          opportunity for extensive community feedback and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It’s a Canadian band, The
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tragically Hip.               they all have different cores. Some colleges and
provost is the job I wanted.                                       to put us in a            around fundraising, overall community engagement             alternative proposals during the fall semester, and I
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  schools had cores that were very, very credit-hour
   I’d always had my own opinions. I thought there were                                      and the physical plant. I see an academic strategic          appreciate everyone’s input in the process. Ultimately,                                 heavy, and students couldn’t get a second major or a
things we could do that would have an impact. And I            stronger place.               plan as focusing on needs, strengths and necessary           this aligns with our Catholic, Jesuit educational mis-    Pizza                         minor. That’s all going to change. So, there’s a lot of
wanted the opportunity to have that level of impact.                                         investments of the academy for instruction, research,        sion, and the reorganization will help to improve         FAVORITE PL ACE               good for students on a practical level.
                                                                                             learning outcomes, student success and so forth. Any         student success, grow student enrollment and sup-         ON C A MPUS:                     In the end, we hope that students educated with
In previous roles you dealt mostly with faculty, but as provost you’re a leader              goals we establish would align with the University’s         port faculty work in an equitable manner.                 The new Interdisciplinary     this new core curriculum experience the Jesuit mis-
for students and staff as well. Can you discuss your approach to serving the                 strategic plan.                                                                                                        Science and Engineering       sion in a variety of different settings and courses that
entire academic enterprise?                                                                                                                               You also oversee the Divisions of Enrollment              Building                      are deeply tied into their major. Then, ultimately,
I enjoy it. That broader perspective was the biggest learning curve in going from            What can you share about academic reinvention,               and Retention Management, Research, Student                                             they will all graduate with a common experience
                                                                                             SLU’s recent effort to examine its programs and              Development, and Diversity and Innovative                 FAVORITE PL ACE
associate provost to these other roles. When I became interim dean of the College                                                                                                                                   IN ST. LOUIS:                 related to our mission.
of Arts and Sciences, suddenly I was advocating for the students, faculty and staff,         degree offerings?                                            Community Engagement. How do you balance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like the Loop. We live in
recognizing that, oftentimes, they all want different things. So, I needed to help find      Let me preface by saying that SLU is no different than       those units with the demands on the academic                                            What do you hope to accomplish in the next five
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    University City.
solutions that are the best for the institution and the best for all parties involved.       the rest of the academy in that we don’t do a very           side of the fence?                                                                      years?
The provost job is the same.                                                                 good job of closing programs. We do a really good job        I consider them part of the academic side of the fence.   FAVORITE                      I’d like to see us have stable enrollment at a level that
                                                                                             of opening them, and that has caught up to us.               I can’t imagine how we would figure out how to do         VACATION SPOT:
   In the end, we’re here to serve our students. And I think it best to err on the side of                                                                                                                                                        supports everything that we want to do. I would like
                                                                                                What many people don’t understand is the admin-           something like transitioning to test-optional admis-      My wife’s uncle lives
what’s best for student education, what’s best for student learning outcomes.                                                                                                                                                                     to see us increasingly be a more diverse and more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    in Hawaii. We’ve been
                                                                                             istrative effort that goes into overseeing programs.         sion without the faculty working with the enrollment                                    inclusive place such that we look more like the city in
How are your nearly 18 years at SLU an advantage?                                                                                                                                                                   there four times with
                                                                                             Whether a program enrolls one student or a thousand,         management staff. A lot of our outreach to first-gen-                                   the region we inhabit. I would like to see us support
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the kids.
I have relationships with almost everyone here at Saint Louis University. There’s a          we need to regularly review it for student learning          eration students, to Pell-eligible students, is through                                 students who come here to the greatest extent we can.
benefit to that. I know the backstories. I know why people are behaving the way they         outcomes, assess it and provide curricular oversight.        enrollment management, and that is something that         GUILT Y PLE ASURE:            I also would like to see our scholarship and research
are. I know the anxieties that people have, the concerns. I know a lot of the unspoken.      To many, the effort that goes into this is invisible. But    is deeply academic.                                       Chocolate or candy            continue to grow and make an impact. UTAS

14   U N I V E R S I TA S   THE ALUMNI M AG A ZINE OF SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSIT Y                                                                                                                                                                                                         S P R I N G 2 02 2   15
MEET THE DATA-DRIVEN - Saint Louis University
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